The recent post, 20 Things Every First-Generation Latino College Student Should Know, really inspired me to reflect on my own experience as a first-generation Latina college graduate. I noticed, however, that the list spoke to current college students and decided to share my personal response with advice to soon-to-be first-generation Latino college graduates about the journey ahead. This is the advice that I wish I had read as a college senior and 22-year-old, and advice that I now share with you.
Over the past few years, I've cried many, many times feeling defeated and thinking that I didn't have a chance to make it as a communications professional. But with the support of my loved ones and those who believed in me, I've been able to get up and fight for my dreams! As I near 27, I can honestly tell you that I've never been happier and felt more fulfilled in my career than now. You see the road to success is full of challenges, but I want you to know that you can live your dream life. So have the courage to push towards your dream job after graduation and enjoy the journey ahead of you!
Here's my advice to you:
1. Relax. Take the next couple of months to be present. Don't stress yourself out trying to make your 5-year plan now. Instead, focus all your energy on your studies, make the time to hang out with friends, and create fun memories.
2. Travel. With the real world ahead of you, it's easy to get lost in what you want to do for the rest of your life. Why not get lost in a trip around the world after graduation?
3. Thinking About Grad School? I highly encourage anyone who is thinking about grad school to do research! Visit schools, speak with current students, and don't be afraid to travel to another city to accomplish your degree in.
4. Volunteer. Maybe you're not ready to enter the real world? Or perhaps you're looking to make a difference and gain skills necessary to succeed? This is a great alternative!
5. Don't Be Shy! Have the courage to SPEAK up for your dreams and believe in your abilities. There is only one of YOU, and the world needs you!
6. Polish Your Resume. Don't be afraid to email your school's career center during/after graduation for help! They're more than happy to help review your resume and they probably have great resources available to you online. (Hint: Save your resume to LinkedIn and keep it up-to-date.)
7. Attend Networking Events In Your City. Prepare by creating, printing and bringing your business cards to the events. Also, dress up for success it will help you swap business cards during the event. (Hint: Follow-up via LinkedIn the next day.)
8. Apply to Internships. I can't stress how important this is to your career! Don't be afraid to apply for internships and accept an offer, because in some instances you can be hired afterward! It's a great opportunity to strengthen your skills.
9. Find A Mentor. Don't be shy about reaching out to the professionals that you meet at networking events and ask to meet you for a one-on-one chat at a coffee place. This is a great way to have your questions/doubts answered about the field you're hoping to be in. At the end, take the opportunity to ask if he/she would be interested in mentoring you.
10. Write About Your Experiences. The best way to make sense of your journey as a professional adult is to jot down everything you've experienced! From job rejections to internship experiences and to the time you got your first job offer! It will make you stronger.
11. Write Down Your Goals and Dreams. This will be your go-to reminder whenever you're going through an obstacle! Remind yourself of what you want to accomplish.
12. There's Nothing Wrong With Living At Home After Graduation. Yes! If your parents are supportive of you living at home while you work towards your dream job -- then take it! Plus, you get to create special more special moments with your family!
13. Don't Buy A Car! If you're thinking of moving to another city, attending grad school or are living in a large city where public transportation is within arms reach, then save it and put that towards your student loans.
14. Save and Learn to Manage Your Money. The sooner you learn to save and manage your money, the sooner you will get out of student debt. (Hint: Your future self will thank you once you're ready to purchase a home or car!)
15. Spend On Experiences. Okay, you must be thinking, "but you said to save!" True. But life is an experience worth living and investing in the experiences that you enjoy is also important to boost your happiness!
16. Practice Gratitude. Whether you decide to pray or mediate this will help you to stay grounded and help lead you to lead a happier and fulfilling life. And don't forget to thank those who help you along the way.
17. Read Articles that Pertain to Your Field. You should never stop learning! Follow your favorite publications on social media, and stay on top of the trends that are circling your field.
18. Create A Presence on Social Media. You already spend time on social media. So why not use one of your platforms like Twitter to share your expertise on? Share your knowledge and create your own expertise voice.
19. Never Forget about Your Culture and Where You Come From. If you were raised in a household where your culture and/or Spanish language was valued, then don't ever be ashamed of it! Let it continue to be a part of you.
20. Don't give up! You will get a few rejections from the jobs/internships that you apply to, but that doesn't mean that you should give up! Have the courage to keep pushing until you land your first opportunity!
Follow Yuliana Salinas on Twitter: twitter.com/yuli_salinas